Agricultural Sciences

Ag Sciences students awarded international fellowships

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Two Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences students have been awarded fellowships from the U.S. Borlaug Global Food Security Program.

Ariel Rivers, a dual-degree doctoral student in Entomology and International Agriculture and Development, and Daniel Tobin, a dual-degree doctoral student in Agricultural and Extension Education, and International Agriculture and Development, received the fellowships to support their international research projects.

Rivers will spend six months at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center in El Batan, Mexico, working in a long-term conservation-agriculture research system. She will study beneficial and pest insect communities in conservation systems.

"By determining how specific conservation and conventional agricultural practices affect the beneficial arthropod community and their rates of predation within the field, we can gain a better understanding of how these practices might contribute to in-field agricultural biodiversity and biological control potential," Rivers explained.

"The work I will do in Mexico is very similar to work I am currently conducting in Pennsylvania," she said. "By studying both systems, I can determine how similar conservation practices impact arthropod communities in various locations, and if there is any potential correlation between the sites."

In another project, Tobin will travel to the highlands of rural Peru to investigate the impacts of market integration initiatives on farm households.

"I will look at the development of markets for native potatoes and how they affect the livelihood strategies and food security of families who are both participating and not participating in the market integration projects," Tobin said. "The project ties into my research interests, which include international agricultural development, food systems and food security, community development and capacity building."

The U.S. Borlaug Fellows in Global Food Security program is funded by the United States Agency for International Development to expand the pool of U.S. food security professionals who have the scientific base needed to effectively study and manage global landscapes in support of sustainable food systems.

More information about the program is available at

To learn more about international opportunities for students in agriculture, call the College of Agricultural Sciences Office of International Programs at 814-863-0249 or visit

Last Updated October 22, 2012